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Lately, I don't really know how to feel about Heroes. I know how I don't feel: It's certainly not good—at least by season one, "I'm genuinely wondering where this thing is headed" standards of good—but nor is it obtusely offensive anymore. The writers have at least cut back on the idiotic characters meant as placeholders for actual intrigue or interest (Fear-Punchy will go down in history… if the point of your character is to show off a power, you should show up, at most, once), and beefed up the screen time for the people we actually—well, ostensibly—care about. It'd be a smart move, if only the show felt purposeful, or if any of the preexisting characters were to step up in a big way.

But here we are, a few episodes into the new volume, and the most I can muster is a good solid "meh." Gone is the escalation towards a culmination of events, to be replaced with little mysteries resolved in tidy vignettes. Frankly, it's none of the frantic excitement I used to love about this show, but certainly none of the ear-gouging stupidity I've hated. Just, boring.

Tonight didn't help me choose a side (ah, memories of "Villains"): It mostly fell, yet again, in the less-than-capable hands of Claire Bennett. After meeting comic-book nerdlinger–slash–Harriet Tubman namechecker Alex, she decides to hide him in her closet, a spot quickly discovered by her mother. Claire tries to cover it up ("We were having sex. Deep sex. P in V."), but ultimately confessed to Ms. Bennett that she's hiding him from dad. Bitter from the separation—possibly—mom decides she wants in. It starts by stashing him in a secret hiding spot in another closet when the government storms the house, and later becomes the creation of a fake ID and distracting said feds so Claire and Alex can run down a hill, accidentally align their genitailia, and swap spit at the bottom of a pool. Noooo! Think of West! (Also, Alex sort of looks like Peter, which is weird for so many real-world reasons as well.) And in-between, naturally, comes relationship talk. For example, Claire on why she doesn't want to date anyone: "Everyone who gets married gets a divorce."

Over in Peter-Parkman land, the pair of notable mind-controllers (ugh, I'm not digging this limit on Peter's power, mostly cuz they never acknowledged it with anything… not even a magical "serum" that did this to him or anything?) starts back at Isaac's studio, where Parkman is painting picture after picture of Mario when he's not wearing his suspenders. Suddenly, REBEL interrupts the fun, noting where Daphne is being held. Any normal person would pause and at least develop a plan; any normal Heroes person would pause, albeit shorter, and at least try to develop a plan. Not Parkman, for he be… no man, he be a one-note beast! Daphne = action! So they head to DC, and stare their way to the mainframe computer, which Peter duly hacks, thanks to REBEL yet again. He manages to steal footage of the heroes wearing orange jumpies, and he uses that later as a bargaining chip to try and get back Daphne and Parkman. Oh yeah, they captured Parkman by pulling the fire alarm, thus disrupting his power. Yep, that's it. He can trap people in their own nightmares, but apparently a little noise is the key to his foil.

Well, Peter releases those tapes to the press, and now everyone knows just how illegal this whole operation has been. My law school friend can finally breathe a sigh of relief. This should be really bad news for Nathan, who is apparently not even giving the orders in his own backyard anymore. But an eerie calm has washed over him. I was really looking forward to him plunging the depths of his own boundaries, but it's been only a few episodes and he's already questioning his actions. Hell, he even flew to save Peter tonight, despite the government plan to take him down. Sure, it's his brother and all, but Nathan as the Big Bad for the season has been nothing but a disappointment.

I will say, though, that I'm getting more excited about Sylar's story. Mostly because, aw shit, his dad freakin' sold him! Plus, according to the description of the next episode [spoilerz], it looks like Sylar finally meets his father next week. I'm glad the show is finally moving his character forward, which almost makes up for the pointless, short flashbacks that littered this week's Sylar escapades (yeah, even that Sin City blood spatter seemed unnecessary), along with the creation of mini-Sylar, now on his way home. I'm sure he'll be back, in probably a really forced way, but c'mon, Heroes: Let's surprise some people, for once.

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

  • Here's my prediction: Micah is REBEL. He controls machines, so who else could it be?
  • No Hiro and Ando for the second week in a row. Hoo. Ray.
  • "Seems a little on-the-nose." Thanks, Sylar!